Watched the first episode twice so far – PBS never airs anything just once.
Working backwards, I picked up at the end of the episode exactly what day it’s set, not just a generic 1862: the cheering soldiers mention Williamsburg, and there was a battle of Williamsburg on May 5, 1862. The Union considered it a victory because the Rebels retreated – hence the celebration in the show – but the Confederates considered it a covering action for their orderly withdrawal to Richmond.
Random thoughts on the episode:
*The surgeons managed to use pretty much every title except the right one (baroness & baron) for the lead character and her late husband (duke, marchioness, etc.) in addressing her. That and the suckling pig thing – which went from funny to tiresome in only two iterations – made me think the surgeons had mocked her around the lunch or operating table before she arrived (German baroness from Boston becoming a nurse!) and decided to get in a few tweaks to her face too.
*The Union officers living in the Green’s house were nervy trash-talking the war while wandering the halls. The two officers getting breakfast like two businessmen grazing a hotel breakfast bar (“Have you tried the jam?”) and suddenly realizing the Greens were sitting right there were hilarious.
*Does anyone think the nurse who claims to have worked alongside Florence Nightingale – and don’t you forget it! – is exaggerating her resume? She clearly picked up nursing skills somewhere, but I foresee a future visitor/letter/newspaper article bursting her “best buds with Flo” routine.
*Clearly they are setting up the head nurse and the contract surgeon for Moonlighting style “will they, won’t they” tension romance. He’ll start to see ex-slaves as more human, she’ll start to see slaveholders as more human.
*In the same vein, there will surely be an incident where the black [del]physician’s assistant[/del] [del]orderly[/del] cleaning guy is seen performing with unquestionable medical skill by the contract surgeon, who will begrudgingly have to admit (1) savings lives is what counts, not who did it, (2) he’s got skills, and (3) maybe I shouldn’t look down on ex-slaves or presume every black person is an ex-slave.
*Loved the parallel of Dix interviewing prospective nurses and then the lead character mentoring the older Green daughter (forgot her name!) with the same focus on dressing practically rather than (in their humble opinion) frivolously. Also loved that the girl took the lead’s advice to heart; she wasn’t just being polite (or mocking) in the conversation but was sincere. She’s clearly in for a mind-broadening too.
*Younger Green daughter with ringlets will surely hit the roof when she finds out eventually that her beau has been down the street in the hospital all along and her sister chose not to tell her. “Ahh coulda nuhsed heeem! Ahh SHOULDA nuhsed heeem!”